What do you do when you feel as if you’ve failed at something? Shame you? Shrink into yourself and isolate? Pick you apart in an attempt to figure out what’s wrong with you? Turn your failure into a secret that you need to cart around in your emotional baggage? Well, I’ve decided to do none of those things.

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about the outcome of an 18-month-long journey of trying to get a book deal. As you may already have guessed, it didn’t work out, haha. Trying to secure one has a number of stark parallels with dating and relationships, including the awkwardness of breaking up and the whole “You’re great! You’re amazing and someone would be lucky to have you… but I’m not ready for a relationship…”

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Some nuggets from the episode:

  • The opposite of being ‘strong’ (or the ’strong black woman’) isn’t weak; it’s human.
  • Despite the outcome, I have no regrets. In allowing myself to fail, I opened myself up to a deeper level of vulnerability. The book deal, rejection from so-called authorities, isn’t a scary thing.
  • It’s good to check in with ourselves about whether we’re being genuinely vulnerable or whether we are, yes, putting ourselves out there but doing so because we think that the risk of us failing is much lower. We think ‘Surely I’ve done all the things now [to make it unlikely]’.
  • It’s easy to miss the wood for the trees. We spend so much time looking at the symptoms or trying to decipher other people’s intentions that we don’t necessarily give enough weight to what our feelings, thoughts and actions are telling us. They’re screaming that we’re in the wrong place.

As is the way with life, present-day experiences that seem unrelated to past ones bring up old feelings and wounds. This offers the opportunity to confront them, to see what we couldn’t see before. We get to change the story we tell.

  • I had to surrender and let the chips fall where they may. I let go of the need to be in control of the [book proposal].
  • We believe that there has to be a reason. If the person decides that they don’t want to be in a relationship with us, that they don’t want to give us a job, that they don’t want to be our friend, there has to be, in our mind, a very specific reason. It has to be attributed to something that we feel that we could have done better or could have done less of. It’s so that we can go “Oh, that’s what it is!” We can then go and please and perfect to correct that.

There’s no success in being successful at the thing that isn’t for you.

  • If you exited a relationship where you were trying to convert somebody into something they’re not, where you tried to force somebody to give you the relationship that you know that you are worthy of but that they’re not the person for, that’s a success, not a failure.
  • It’s OK to hurt, to smart after rejection, but don’t reject yourself. In any situation where you’re feeling unwanted, unworthy or rejectionable, question that.

Links mentioned

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